Down East 2013 ©
“I am a life-long despiser of pumpkin pie,” writes Kate Shaffer, founder of Black Dinah Chocolatiers on Isle au Haut and author of Desserted: Recipes and Tales from an Island Chocolatier. “But I adore pumpkin.” This cheesecake was her contribution to the island’s Thanksgiving potluck dinner. Serves 10 to 12.
For the crust:
1¼ cups chocolate wafer crumbs (if I don’t have homemade from the café on hand, I use Nabisco)
1/3 cup finely ground walnuts
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup granulated sugar
For the filling and glaze:
1 pound Pumpkin Puree (see page 36) or canned pumpkin
1½ pounds cream cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½-pint jar elderberry jelly
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9" springform pan with butter. Place ¼ cup of the wafer crumbs in the pan and coat the entire inside of the pan, using the same method as you would to flour a buttered cake pan. Wrap the entire outside of the pan in several layers of commercial-quality plastic wrap.
Place the remaining 1 cup of chocolate wafer crumbs (and any excess from the pan), walnuts, melted butter, and sugar in a medium-size bowl and mix thoroughly. Press this mixture onto the bottom of the pan.
Next, make the filling. In a food processor, blend the pumpkin and cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and process. Add the eggs, two at a time, processing until smooth after each addition. Finally, mix in the lemon juice. Scrape this filling into the pan, level the top with an offset spatula, place the springform into a roasting pan large enough to hold it, and then pour boiling water into the roasting pan so that it comes halfway up the springform.
Bake for 1½ to 2 hours, removing the pan from the oven when there is just a small wiggly area in the middle.
Take the pan out of the water, and allow it to cool completely on a rack. Chill the cheesecake thoroughly.
When you are ready to serve it, remove it from the refrigerator and release the sides of the pan. Heat the elderberry jam gently in a small saucepan over a low flame. The point is not to heat it up, but to warm it enough that it becomes liquid. Pour the resulting glaze over the entire top of the cheesecake, leveling it out with an offset icing spatula.